Jeffrey LewisJudy Miller, Busted Again

Friend of Wonk and Fellow Foodie Jackie Shire, in a segment titled Judy Miller, Busted Again on, very politely points out that Judy Miller—in her return to WMD reporting—immediately returned to her old habit of making misleading statements that reflect a tenuous grasp of the subject, at best.

Jackie was nicer than I would have been. At issue is this statement in Miller’s article Wall Street Journal:

The nuclear front was more troubling. Not only had Libya developed highly compartmentalized chemical and nuclear programs that were often unknown even to the Libyans who worked at the facilities, they had already imported two types of centrifuges from the Khan network—aluminum P-1s, (for Pakistan-1), and 4,000 of the more advanced P-2s.

Um, no. Libya imported casings and other components, but only two full P2 centrifuges. Two, for those of you with limited math skills, is substantially less than four thousand. A centrifuge without a rotor is not/not a centrifuge anymore than a car without an engine. Here are the relevant passages from the IAEA report:

According to the Libyan authorities, in 1997, foreign manufacturers provided 20 pre-assembled L-14 centrifuges and components for an additional 200 L-1 centrifuges, including process gas feeding and withdrawal systems, UF6 cylinders and frequency converters.


Libyan authorities stated that, in September 2000, Libya received two centrifuges of the type called L-2. These are similar to another European design (more advanced than the L-1 type centrifuges), and use maraging steel rotors instead of aluminium rotors. … Out of the 10 000 centrifuges ordered, Libya had received a considerable number of parts, mainly casings, by the time of the Agency inspections in late December 2003. However, according to Libya, no additional rotors were included in the shipments.

Iran imported 22 rotors in assembeled centrifuges, 20 L-1 and 2 L-2. Libya also seems to have imported 200 L1 rotors from SCOPE in Mayalsia.

I guess Judy didn’t use her time in the jug to read old IAEA reports.


David Albright actually addressed this claim directly:

David Albright, former nuclear inspector and current head of the Institute for Science and International Security, has stated that official claims about the Oak Ridge display were not true, and that the 4,000 centrifuges discussed and partly shown in the display were only the centrifuge casings, not entire operational centrifuges that include the rotors. Mr. Albright stated, “We doubt they had more than two which had rotors…. make no mistake, the Libyan program was very serious and we’re glad it’s stopped… The problem from our point of view is that the White House, which basically organized the briefing, is so focused on claiming credit that it’s willing to exaggerate.”


  1. yale (History)

    If you suffer from ADHD or pay for broadband access by the second, then you can speed up the video by 50%.

    Right click on the player screen and click “play speed” and choose “Fast”.

    Altho the speakers won’t sound like Donald Duck, they will sound like they just finished a triple Sumatra Blend with extra sugar at Starbucks.